Friday, July 24, 2009

POETRY FRIDAY: Otherwise by Jane Kenyon

It has been a year of bad news for me. Two close friends with cancer that had seemed to be doing so well are experiencing setbacks… a young relative has been diagnosed with the dread disease… a dear old friend is now having serious heart problems. I have to admit that it has been difficult to focus on my writing and blogging in recent months.

With thoughts of my friends and my relative who are bravely battling health problems, I’m posting Otherwise, a favorite poem by Jane Kenyon, one of my favorite poets.

From Otherwise
by Jane Kenyon

I got out of bedon two strong legs.

It might have been

otherwise. I ate

cereal, sweet

milk, ripe, flawless

peach. It might

have been otherwise.

I took the dog uphill

to the birch wood.

All morning I did

the work I love.

You can read the rest of the poem here.


At Wild Rose Reader, I have reviews of two children’s books with poems about life in the city: City I Love and Sky Scrape/City Scape.

At Political Verses, I have Ramblin’ Prose, a song parody about Sarah Palin’s resignation speech.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at A Year of Reading.


Linda said...

Dear Elaine, so sorry to hear about all the health setbacks of your friends and family member. My mother is still battling the disease, in remission now, but we've been assured it will return.

Since my mother's illness, I've read the poems in Jane Kenyon's collection Otherwise many times, especially the title poem just to remind myself that although I have some health issues, I'm so much more fortunate than many. Thanks for posting it today.

Jeannine Atkins said...

Elaine, I am so sorry about all you are going through. I'm sure your concern is a help to those who you care about. I, too, like this poem and Donald Hall's book The Best Day the Worst Day about their love.

A few years ago when my best friend was diagnoses, I, too, had a very hard time writing. I found I had to begin my writing days just writing about her and all the ins and outs of chemo, nausea, nurses, all the stuff she talked about and I worried about. Putting things on a page helped clear my head for at least some other thoughts and words. Of course I only know you through your posts and poems, but I'm mentioning this in the hope it will help you, too. Best wishes, Jeannine Atkins

Mary Lee said...

This is a poem I need to hold in my heart.

Elaine Magliaro said...


I know what you're saying. I've had some chronic physical problems that have caused me a lot of discomfort over the years--but I haven't had any serious health issues. I consider myself fortunate when I see what some of my friends and family have had to deal with.

I finally tried acupuncture a couple of months ago. The acupuncture treatments and an herbal remedy have made a world of difference in the way I feel.


I appreciate your comments. In the past, I found that reading and writing poetry served as a kind of therapy for me when I was dealing with my own health problems and with the deaths of family members and the loss of a friend/teaching colleague to brain cancer. (That friend was a member of a close knit writers' group that I belonged to.)

I'm hoping I can get back in the writing mode again. I know it will help ease the pain.

Mary Lee,

"Otherwise" and "Let Evening Come" are two favorite Kenyon poems. I read the latter at my father-in-law's funeral.

Mary Lee said...

Elaine, you have to look at the Writer's Almanac poem for today, June 25. It reminds me a little of this Kenyon poem. I would put them in the same anthology of grief and loss.

jama said...

Sorry to hear about all the bad news, Elaine. It's hard enough when one close friend isn't doing well, but several at the same time! Poetry is indeed a great source of solace and comfort. I will keep you and your loved ones in my thoughts and prayers.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Elaine I am sorry you are facing all these sad, difficult things this year. I have had a hard year too, but still have found many good things to be thankful for. I pray you and yours will find the grace in the difficulties. Poetry is one of them for sure.

Elaine Magliaro said...

Jama and Andi,

Thank you for your kind thoughts. Poetry HAS been a lifesaver for me at difficult periods in my life. And I am truly thankful for the wonderful friends and family I have shared so many happy times with.

laurasalas said...

Elaine, hugs and strength to you and your loved ones in these painful times. Thank god for poetry and friends--they both blossom to fill in the lean times of the other.

This is a beautiful poem--think I've read it once or twice before. I love "Let Evening Come," and I just recently bought Jane Kenyon: Collected Poems. It has a few from Otherwise, but not this actual poem. I'm looking forward to reading this book this fall/winter, which just feels like the right time to do so.